The Community Read is a recurring event, facilitated by USI, to promote reading, reflecting and community action on issues affecting the Tri-State Area.
This year's program (War and Our Communities) focuses on readjustment issues after wartime service facing Veterans, their families and communities.
What is the Community Read Project?
The Community Read is a community project where various groups read The Things They Carried written by Vietnam War veteran, Tim O'Brien, and discuss the effects of serving in an active combat zone, impacts on soldiers and their families, and how the community can help ease their reintegration.
Who is the intended audience of this project?
Our target audience includes any community member interested in the issue of reentry of those who have served in war. This could include those who have actually served, and their families, or community members with an interest in learning more and helping to improve our local community's ability to help those returning to successfully make this transition.
What are the main elements of the project?
Beginning in March, groups will read and discuss The Things They Carried, then come together at events throughout the month of April to share insights and suggestions about how communities might better assist returning veterans and their families. We will also be recording stories of those who have served, and their families, to use as teaching aids, to help community members understand what is needed. WNIN will be storing these stories and making them available to those connected with other public radio and television stations around the country.
We can offer resources to groups who would like to participate, including veterans who can tell their stories and reflect with your group, mental health professionals who can explain the various mental health issues that can arise and how they may impact behavior, experts on the barriers to education, training, and employment faced by returning veterans, as well as films, facilitator training, group facilitators, and writing-group leaders.
What are the effects of serving in an active war zone?
Experts say the issues that veterans confronted after Vietnam are similar to those faced by veterans returning from Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the past decades – and by their family members. These issues are with us still, and they include both psychological and physical issues, problems finding jobs and re-integrating to family life, among others.
How are families impacted?
Family members are affected by issues faced by the returning soldier, and often do not understand what their loved ones are experiencing. Stress and conflict may result.
How can communities help?
Communities can become more aware of the issues, gain greater knowledge of them, and work to institute needed resources to help veterans and their families better cope with any problems that arise.
How will the Community Read project help?
We hope that each group will stimulate individuals to reflect and react – to tell their stories and take action as appropriate and deemed useful. Such actions might include sharing stories to help educate the public, developing forums where issues can be addressed, encouraging actions in the community that would be helpful for our returning veterans and their families. We are interested in the stories and insights of all those impacted – families, friends, employers, etc., as well as those who served.
How can I get involved?
Email USI's Service Learning program at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to get involved. Or call USI's Division of Outreach and Engagement at 812-464-1989.